“Before we leave this moonlit spot, however, Miss Heartwell, I beg that you make friends with old Defiance, for my sake, and recall that cruel wish concerning him,” he said playfully, and with an arch smile.
Lizzie replied, “For your sake, I will, and for yours only;” and throwing a kiss across the silvery sea, she said, “Take that, old fort, as a peace-offering.”
The winds sighed and the sea murmured as they turned to rejoin the revellers, and that sportive kiss was borne away on the wandering breeze.
The revelry must end. Madam’s love-bound pupils must be separated. The adieus must be spoken, but there must be no tears; that were a weak and indecorous manifestation of feeling, in madam’s estimation. Blandly bowing her stately head, and kindly congratulating each upon having “finished,” and finished well, madam gracefully waved them out of her presence, into the future, with a gentle motion of her jewelled hand.
“I shall see you to morrow, Lizzie,” whispered Leah Mordecai, as she passed from the seminary escorted by Emile Le Grande.
“Certainly, at any hour, and do not disappoint me. Remember it’s the last day.”
All were gone. The stars twinkled faintly in the sky. Every light in madam’s great house was extinguished, and all sound of that evening’s revel hushed forever.
The morning sun threw its ruddy beams, warm almost to tropical heat, through the half-closed casement of Leah Mordecai’s apartment, and the intrusive light opened the dark, dreamy eyes to consciousness. The hour was late. Toil-worn and languid from hard study and the relaxing climate, Leah rested in her bed reluctant to arise.
“It’s all over now; school-days are ended, and I am acknowledged a young lady, I suppose,” thought Leah half-consciously, as she aroused at length from slumber. Then the thought came that it was the last day of Lizzie Heartwell’s sojourn in the Queen City; and Leah sprang from her repose with a new and powerful impulse. “I shall spend these last hours with her,” she muttered articulately, as she hastily performed the morning’s simple toilet. “Yes, I’ll tell her my secret, too, though to no living soul have I breathed it yet,” she continued audibly, as she adjusted a pin here and there among the dark braids of her hair. At last, smoothing the jetty bands across the fair, oval forehead, she glanced back again to see that the scar—the hated, dreadful scar—was hidden. Then placing a knot of scarlet ribbon amid the delicate lace-work of her snowy morning dress, she languidly descended the stairs and entered the library, where her father sat awaiting her appearance.
Mr. Mordecai was proud of Leah; proud of her attainments at school, gratified with her grade of deportment, and delighted that she had “finished,” and with so much credit. As she entered the library, he arose, and clasping her in his arms, imprinted first a good-morning and then a congratulatory kiss upon her face.